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August 30, 2011

Movie Review: Redneck Zombies (Tromasterpiece Collection, 1988)

Directed by Pericles Lewnes

Buy Redneck Zombies on DVD

Whether it’s present cinema or back in the late 80’s when the no-budget splatter romp, Redneck Zombies was produced by pals, Pericles Lewnes (also Director) and Ed Bishop, you can’t deny the complexity of getting your film released being a low-budget filmmaker. It isn’t a mystery, Redneck Zombies is a classic of sorts and quite groundbreaking at the same time being a shot-on-video movie to amass a surprisingly vast audience. Before locking up with Troma for a video distribution deal over twenty years ago, Bishop and Lewnes had plenty of doors slammed in their faces. Production companys basically thought that a feature length film on video wouldn't fly. Only pornos were really shot-on-video, not a horror film. Redneck Zombies and it's crew persevered though. What do Lewnes and Bishop have to show for it? How about a new 20th anniversary special edition for the new Tromasterpeice collection of their magnum opus, Redneck Zombies? That’s right, Redneck Zombies!

Redneck Zombies' plot is very simple and akin to the Troma offerings in the late 80’s with it’s toxic waste infused plot. A group of country-folk becomes flesh-eating, gut-chomping undead monsters when some toxic waste gets mixed in with their beloved moonshine. The acting is abysmal but it really doesn’t matter as much of it appears intentional anyway. These are essentially cartoon characters that have come to life. That said, a few of the characters completely stand-out amongst the movies biggest draw – the non-stop gore. I personally loved the performance of one plus -sized redneck, Ferd Mertz (Henry Dicker, AKA Becky Santini). Dicker is gigantic in size but shows in equally strong ability to “eat up” every second of scream time. Amazingly, Dicker has shed more than half his weight since production, which you’ll notice in the bonus features.

Lewnes, Bishop and Troma have put forth some sensational extra features:
-A brand new director approved color-corrected transfer of the film
-The Original Never-Before-Released Soundtrack on bonus CD.
-New Interviews with Director Pericles Lewnes and cast
-New Feature-length Audio Commentary by Pericles Lewnes and producer Edward Bishop
-Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Original Promotional Videos

The interviews, by themselves are going to keep you busy as there are 13 total. Not all are gems but the recollections of creators Bill Decker, Pericles Lewnes and Edward Bishop are quite enjoyable. As mentioned earlier, Henry Dicker, is a hoot. A very funny guy whether he’s chomping on innards sporting a 500 plus frame or just hamming it here in this interview. The audio commentary for Redneck Zombies is easily one of the better Troma commentaries. Bishop and Lewnes are upfront about the trials and tribulations of getting their mutant baby out there and how Lloyd Kaufman took great interest in the feature – which he then subsequently distributed.

I watch a lot of shot-on-video films…a lot. It’s all people do these days. Numerous filmmakers mention Redneck Zombies as being a micro-budget influence whether they like the film or not. One thing that Redneck Zombies has that’s hard to duplicate by any schmo with a camera and a class at the local community college, is heart. Yes it’s goofy, often disgusting, but this little film has heart that most multi-million dollar Hollywood productions and pretentious indie shite lack. This is an outstanding disc all-around so go grab mug of that toxic moonshine and get to toasting one the best low-budget splatter films to come out of the 1980’s!

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